Built to Thrill: 2007 Boat of the Year Winners

This year's winners are as fun as they are functional. "First Beat" from our December 18 /SW eNewsletter/

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Sailing World's annual Boat of the Year contest is four months of selections, inspections, and deliberations aimed at finding the best new racing sailboats on the market, and out of this year's class emerges a group of boats that are as fun as they are functional. The Overall Winner is the Esse 850, a 28-foot sportboat that achieves a perfect union of aesthetics and performance. The boat's plumb bow, low-profile deckhouse, and open transom give it a sleek simplicity that carries over into the cockpit, where bungee-tethered control lines exit from the deckhouse and disappear into the seats, leaving nothing beneath your feet but the teak sole. Driving the Esse's handsome hull is a powerful sail plan with square-top mainsail, non-overlapping headsail, and 860-square-foot, sprit-launched gennaker. Despite this hefty sail area and a relatively narrow 7'6" beam, the boat is stable thanks to its 1,500-pound, 6-foot-deep keel. Most importantly, the Esse sails beautifully, easily finding the groove upwind and eagerly dancing off the wind. If your holiday wish list accommodates $70,000 toys, you'll want to pencil in the Esse 850. The Corsair Sprint 750 wins Best Sportboat. This 24-foot trimaran improves upon its predecessor, Corsair's F-24, with more responsive handling, better downwind performance, and a deck layout optimized for doublehanded racing. For racers who dream of sailing Open 60 monohulls but lack the budget (or the temerity), the Open 5.70 delivers many of the thrills of those ocean racing rocketships in a compact, ramp-launchable package. Winner of Best One-Design, the 5.70 is roughly 18-feet-long and 8-feet-wide in the stern, making it the sailing equivalent of a big wave surfboard. For all its performance prowess, however, the Open 5.70 has the stability and cockpit space to comfortably carry a family on an afternoon cruise. The X-35 One Design and the Salona 37 win, respectively, Best Racer/Cruiser and Best Cruiser/Racer. The X-35 seems poised for IRC and PHRF success with its logical deck layout and traditional features such as a symmetric spinnaker and aluminum spars. The Croatian-built Salona 37 has a spacious interior (available in three layouts) for comfortable cruising, and converts easily to racing mode. Details such as a grippy, hollow circle non-skid pattern and an easily accessible emergency steering quadrant reflect the care and consideration that went into crafting this dual-purpose racer. For more contest results, click here.To view photo galleries of all 17 boats nominated for SW's 2007 Boat of the Year contest, click here.